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Councilors review new zoning plan

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Three of the councilors met with City Planner Paul Corder and Planning Commission Chair Mack MacCluskey Monday to discuss proposed changes to the City of Lebanon's comprehensive zoning plan.

Ward 1 Councilor Lanny Jewell said his main concern was whether changes in allowed uses in some zones could be a problem.

Jewell said he didn't want to set a precedent that would allow owners of land adjacent to spots with differing zones to change to less restricted zoning.

Corder said the current revised plan wouldn't change any allowed uses - it only changes the labels on some of the zones.

He added that "allowed uses" is on the "bucket list" of things to consider and would address those kinds of issues. But since it's a complex issue, it was one of those set aside for later.

'Update 1968'

Corder said the new zoning document would primarily update language used in the 1968 version of the code and delete outmoded zoning classes, while making the rules easier for developers to access.

But, he added, there is a list of things that need to be looked at as well.

The list includes a wide variety of items which need serious discussion to determine what, if any, changes are needed.

Some of the items on the list are granny flats, urban trees, apartments, package stores, signs, gravel parking lots and food trucks.

Also included are some more general issues like value-oriented standards and updating uses allowed in each zoning district. But Corder and MacCluskey agree that these issues will require individual attention and so the changes so far have excluded these more serious issues.

Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath had other questions. She wanted a copy showing exactly what is different about the new zoning regulations compared to the old ones.

Corder agreed to try to get her a copy with changes highlighted. He added that while most pages have verbiage changes, the regulations and requirements are unchanged except for the removal of things like outdated categories such as haberdasheries and telegraph offices.

Warmath asked some questions about things like "use on appeal" regulations and changes in allowed uses in some zones. But Corder said none of that has changed yet, that this is just the beginning.

Public comments

Over the last several weeks Corder has been collecting comments from citizens about the proposed changes still to come.

Some of the concerns expressed by commenters were whether or not gravel parking lots would be allowed.

Another was whether the City Planning Department plans to encourage townhomes of a size that the commenter, a baby boomer about to retire, wants and said would probably be quite popular.

This person said, "It is my belief that many baby boomers will be looking for affordable one-story structures that have good storage, and are well-designed."

Granny flats?

Others asked about the possibility of a zone that allows granny flats. These are very small houses or apartments usually attached to, or next to, a larger house.

These little houses were used by elderly family members so they could have their own house but still live with family. However, these tiny houses are becoming more popular as free-standing homes.

A fourth issue in the comments was what to do about boat and camper storage. One commenter suggested eliminating the rules entirely and another wanted to limit storage even more than is already done.

As Corder pointed out, that's why the planners decided to wait and debate those items on the "bucket list" - most of them are complicated and at least somewhat controversial.

Following Monday's council work session, the proposed new zoning plan is currently scheduled to come before the full City Council at its first meeting of 2015 on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Writer Connie Esh may be contacted at

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